NASA Sees Hawaii-Bound Hurricanes from Space (Photo)

Hurricane Iselle and Hurricane Julio
On Aug. 5, NASA's Suomi NPP satellite passed over Hawaii three times to capture images of Hurricane Iselle and Hurricane Julio. (Image credit: NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response)

No hurricane has made landfall on Hawaii in 22 years. But now, not one but two swirling storms are headed for the Pacific island chain.

As Hawaii braces for the one-two punch, a NASA climate-and-weather satellite captured a rare sight of the twin storms, Hurricane Iselle and Hurricane Julio, from space.

Iselle and Julio were photographed Tuesday (Aug. 5) by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite. The satellite orbits the Earth about 14 times each day and snaps photos of nearly the entire surface of the planet. The new image of the two Pacific hurricanes is actually a composite of three images taken by one of Suomi NPP's instruments, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, or VIIRS, sensor, according to NASA.

A map from the National Weather Service shows the position of hurricanes Iselle and Julio in relation to Hawaii early Thursday (Aug. 7). (Image credit: NWS)

As of 5 a.m. local time (1500 GMT), Iselle was a Category 1 storm with winds up to 80 mph (130 km/h), located 510 miles (821 kilometers) east-southeast of Honolulu, Hawaii.

Iselle is expected to bring hurricane conditions to the Big Island today (Aug. 7), with heavy rains and high surf that could cause coastal flooding. The storm might also unleash winds strong enough to knock out power and rip shingles off homes, according to the National Weather Service. Then, the storm is on track to barrel through Maui county tonight and Oahu tomorrow (Aug. 8).

Close behind Iselle is Hurricane Julio, which recently strengthened into a Category 2 storm, packing winds with speeds of up to 105 mph (170 km/h), according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center. Julio is still 1,235 miles (1,987 km) east of Hilo on the Big Island, and no warnings or advisories on land have been issued yet for this second storm.

The last hurricane to make landfall on Hawaii was Hurricane Iniki, an intense storm that caused six deaths and more than $3 billion worth of damage after it struck in September 1992, according to the NWS.

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Megan Gannon Contributing Writer

Megan has been writing for Live Science and since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity on a Zero Gravity Corp. to follow students sparking weightless fires for science. Follow her on Twitter for her latest project.